Together with House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 44 – A Fight To The Death.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 44 – A Fight to The Death.

A moment’s hesitation. In a battle among mages, that moment is an eternity.


*Click—Bam!*


From the muzzle of the Jericho came nine millimeter bullets flying towards Archer’s forehead, their aim true. But Archer was a Servant. The momentary preparation was enough for him to determine that the enemy’s aim was his head, and his arm moved up in defense.


“—Gah…!”


The bullets scattered flesh and scraped bone. Physical attacks had little effect on Servants. Under normal conditions, a lead bullet would be unable to deal damage to them. However…


…Consecrated bullets. Bullets filled with holy relics…!


It was absurd to us a word like “consecrated”. In truth, manufactured as bullets full of holy material and used in a gun the ammunition possessed a timeless curse. Holy relics were treasures that could affect a spirit just by existing.

Normal lead bullets made the equal of sorcery. It was a method of attack to make them into something even greater than that.


*Bam! Bam! Bam!*


The bullets continued to fire. Naturally, Archer had already moved. The moment the first bullet hit him, he had rushed diagonally left in front of Kiritsugu, dodging the shower of bullets with a difference of a mere moment, all the while nearing his quarry.

Due to the structure of a human body, reaction to exterior movement was slightly delayed. Kinetic vision and movement ability that seized a moment’s time lag, and saw the whole of the movement that occurred.

Daring combat maneuvers, yes. Daring for all but for a Servant, that is.


“—Tsk!”


He clicked his tongue once. Kiritsugu slung a duralumin trunk lying on top of the console over his shoulder and stepped to his left, drawing a circle around Archer to confront him.


“…Materia roboratio, pondus alleviation.”


A thread of magical energy running through Kiritsugu’s body. The propulsion of his kick off the ground was momentarily enlarged, and he pulled away from Archer as he pursued him.


Strengthening magic!?


Archer had tried to advance and stay close to Kiritsugu, but the man’s maneuver had pulled him two strides away. A straight line was a mistake.


*BamBamBam! Bam!*


Bullets flew. Anticipating them, Archer defended his heart and head with Kanshou and Bakuya as shields, but the width of the blades was such that they could guard against only three gunshots. The last bullet plunged into Archer’s calf.


“—Ah, gaaah!”


Clever. The sound of the gunshots had been nearly continuous, but he had adjusted the aim on the very last shot. How much strength and experience did Kiritsugu possess? A shot like that should have been impossible if one were working with standard firearms tactics in mind.

But Archer was a Servant. Physical impacts did not inflict enough damage to stop him, and the giant red frame drew ever close towards the sorcerer.


“Fall, Magus!”


He swung Kanshou and Bakuya. His target, the right arm. By severing his primary arm, he could disable him-

But-


“—Elementum tempero.”


*Whoosh*


Two blades cut through emptiness. A wind blew. The body of the magician that Archer should have capture that had been right in front of him had suddenly disappeared with a shimmer of hot air.


“..!?”

“What-”


A moment of confusion. Archer moved Kanshou and Bakuya to cover his vital areas.


*BamBamBamBam! Bam!*


Bullets rained down like a storm. It was impossible to deflect every last one; two bored into his body.


“Aggh…!”


The impact drove into his flesh, but Archer did not stop. Tormented by intense pain, his legs continued to advance, chasing after the magus even further. Among spurts of blood, he perceived the figure of Kiritsugu trying to leave the room through the entrance.

Archer had been reading it all. The Jericho had a bullet capacity of sixteen rounds, and there was but one left. One handgun bullet was not an effective countermeasure against a servant.


Do you think I’d let you escape?


Bearing the pain that wracked his body, he kicked off the floor. In terms of mobility, there was no comparison between what a Servant and a human possessed. Archer left the room and closed in on Kiritsugu in a straight corridor in front of the bridge. Conserving his momentum, he tackled Kiritsugu with his shoulder.


*Thwam!*

“Gahaah!”


Kiritsugu was sent flying perpendicular to the floor. On firm ground, Archer gazed at the enemy he had at last cornered and threw his beloved swords.


“Go!”

*Swish!*


Two swords raced through the air. The steel flew towards its target, as if possessed a will of its own. Flat on the ground, Kiritsugu nevertheless defended against Bakuya, the trunk in his hand his shield, but-


*Shnk!*

“Ah—-!”


Its fellow blade Kanshou’s aim was true, and it pinned Kirtsugu’s shin to the floor. His movement was sealed now.


“You won’t escape.”


At the same time, Archer leapt off the ground towards Kiritsugu. The magician’s bullets were exhausted and his leg skewered. The curtains seemed to have been drawn on this play, but-


“—Di material roboratio.”


Kiritsugu readied Jericho once again in his hand, and aimed towards Archer.


“—?”


The last bullet. It was nothing. The power of a handgun could not pierce Kanshou or Bakuya. The mage in front of Archer was Emiya Kiritsugu, however. Would the man whose alias was the Mage Killer do nothing in what could be his final moments?


“Dolor tempero, elementum interpono.”


Their gazes collided. As if gathering the magical energy racing through the gun barrel, Kiritsugu wrapped his finger around the trigger. Archer once again projected Kanshou and Bakuya and moved towards Kiritsugu.


“Elementum tempero.”


That was when he noticed. Kiritsugu’s movements when he had suddenly vanished earlier. Just what was that?

It was not teleportation. If a human mage attempted to teleport under their own power, auxiliary equipment and a chant incorporating the long and short range coordinates would be necessary. Even if they had the ability to use it, it was not suitable for actual combat.

Then what was that back then? Teleportation, the wind… High speed movement that could not be seen…

Innate Time Control.


“—-Hah!”


The moment he realized it, Archer concentrated the fastest projection he was capable directly in front of him. A five-fold over wide broad sword appeared perpendicular to him. But.


“—Ira manifestation.”

*—-Click!*

*Bam!*


All that Archer saw was the a blade in pieces. A violent impact assaulted his body.


“—-Gaah…!”


Archer vomited blood, and his knees gave way. When he turned his eyes to look… He saw that his side was gone.

Sorcery that interferes with time on an innate level, Innate Time Control.

He had been completely defeated by the attack…



Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 44.
A Fight to the death.

No matter the magus, when they employ magic, preparation is necessary. In their world, the ashen man who can take the offensive with modern weapons is the absolute fastest and ultimate oppressor.

Not bound by the restrictions of any laws known to Magi, he employed every method available, struck preemptively, and, without allowing his enemies to respond, silenced them.

That was why he was branded with the name of heretic.

That was why he held the name “Magus Killer”.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 43 – Ashen.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 43 – Ashen.

*….Clink….Clink…*

“……?”


Late in the evening, not quite midnight.

Detecting a faintly resounding metallic sound, Archer awoke.


“…What is that?”


Archer raised his upper body from the bed. As the thick dust danced about, he first checked his own physical condition. Just as had occurred at noon, his inner magical energy had recovered far beyond what he expected. It was not a negative thing, but with the cause completely unknown, it felt unpleasant.


It’s not that the mana in the air is dense. I couldn’t be a line from my own abilities, either.


The last possibility… He was reminded of his master’s faces.


It couldn’t be.


There was no use in being annoyed about what he didn’t know. Archer suspended his thoughts. With his recovery at noon and now, a fair amount of magical energy had returned to his body. His situation was still unpredictable, but he appeared to be restored enough to complete normal projection and other acts of sorcery with no deficiencies. At the worst, it would set back his physical condition a little more.

Archer circulated one portion of the magical power that had been restored to him and closed up his wounds. Placing faith in the boy concerning the areas that had been faithfully treated, he “repaired” his crippled shoulder muscle, the torn muscles in his arm, and his broken fingers.


*Scrape*


He felt the sensation of iron covering his skin. He sealed off the pain together with the wounds, and feeling returned to his arm. He rotated his newly-healed arm around once; it was stiff, but mostly free of pain. It would be enough to fight.

He once again dressed himself in the burial cloth that had function as a dressing for his wound, arose from the bed, and began investigating the situation.

The metallic sound he had heard was a very heavy, dim sound. First would have to come investigation as to the origin of the noise. His eyes accidentally wandered to a porthole. Archer was astonished at the scenery he viewed. The shore had become distant while he slept.


“…The ship’s moving?”


Right on the surface of the ocean far below, the bulbous bow cut through the water. The waves flowing behind evidence of its passage.


“Did the owner of the ship come back?”


If that was so, the long stay had been meaningless, but the ship was in the middle of the river. It was far too late to jump back to the wharf. Problems lay ahead as well. The ship was in no condition to leave Fuyuki Port and head out to sea today. Archer observed what lay ahead of the ship from the porthole.


“It’s… Fuyuki Bridge.”


Alight in the darkness, the red steel frame rose from the ground. The ship seemed to be slowly heading up the river.


“…Hmm.”


After seeing the bridge, Archer decided to wait.

First would come plans for an escape- Immediate escape from the ship by leaping into the river was an option, but having fallen into the Mion River in the previous battle and having been buffeted by its rapids, Archer understood just how dangerous plunging into the river was. The Mion had several origins upstream and variations in its depth, including depths were the current was rapid. There was no need to hurry and expose himself to unnecessary danger. He would simply wait for the ship to near the bridge and leap to it at that moment.

His course clear, Archer took the projected short sword from under his pillow and held it close, and quickly began to prepare.


*—–Creak…*


He could tell a door to one of the ship’s rooms had been opened outside. But he felt no indication of any presence within.


“…?”


It was slightly unusual. The third floor deck, where Archer was, was basically the main area for guest rooms. The structure was designed similar to a hotel to have no hint of the employees who worked there, but even then… Too little had changed from before the ship had moved and after.

The decrepit ship he was aboard was a seventy-meter, mid-sized passenger boat. The larger a ship was, the more staff it required. Even more so with an old ship.


…It’s strange.


Yes, it was strange. There was no way the ship could function as a passenger boat. The exterior was damaged and worn out. The interior was ancient, and left unrepaired. In its deteriorated condition it would not have been unusual for it to docked.


So why is the ship heading upstream… Where there aren’t any docks?


Something was off. Archer proceeded to the second floor, the work deck where the employee rooms were located, and searched for any presences.

He found no trace of people, the same as before.


“……”


His anxiety was changing into conviction. Quickly, Archer headed towards the upper floors while moving in a way to kill his own presence. His target was the fifth floor, the bridge. Along the way he searched the fourth floor as well, but sensed nothing at all once again.

Archer’s expression grew serious.

The old ship’s existence was riddled with contradictions. First off, it was moving with an astonishingly small number of people, perhaps one or two. Something was making it possible to operate a medium-sized ship of this size with so few people. That in itself would require some kind of advanced technology. In addition, if it was such an advanced ship, why had it been left to rot without even bothering to dock it?

The old ship’s actions had many inconsistencies. It could not be heading to dock or moving to some other area. Instead, it was going upstream. A pier large enough to moor a ship this size in that direction did not exist. Moreover, why set sail this late at night? Just where was the ship headed?

His first impression when he saw the ship was that it had come here in order to sink. He wasn’t mistaken, but he wasn’t exactly right either.

The ship had come to Fuyuki City for battle.

Archer stood in front of the door to the bridge. On the way here, he had not detected a single living soul. Numerous conjectures came to his mind, but beyond had to be the truth.

Yes, this town was a battlefield now. The more elements that distinguished the irrational, the more the answers moved towards the unordinary. On the front, what was conjectured from the ordinary, no matter how unreasonable, could occur.

The ship that had been long abandoned… it’s very existence was the answer.


*Grip*


Reaching the bridge, Archer gripped the projected Kanshou and Bakuya. He killed his presence and honed his nerves. Inside was likely… a mage. Archer would disable him.


…Here we go.


*Bam!*


He threw the door open with a breath and shot onto the bridge like a bullet. He looked around. The visual information he collected from the inside of the bridge was immediately analyzed.

The door he had rushed through was on the right interior portion of the bridge. The steering console was placed in the center of the bridge. In front of the console, taken by surprise but already reaching into the holster at his side, was a man in a coat.


“—What-”


The limbs that should have been rushing towards the mage froze.

Continue reading

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 42 – A World Where People Smile.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 42 – A World Where People Smile.

“And then like this… there! Finished!”

With the treatment completed, the boy’s face shined and he flashed a victory sign. The care was flawless. Preventive measures for the deep scars, medical care for the broken fingers, and treatment for the slashes Archer had received from Saber. He taken all of it into account.

It was nothing more than emergency first-aid, but as firm care as a preamble to movement it provided a sense of relief. With this his magical power would circulate, and there might be enough to heal some parts completely.


“Thanks for the help, boy. I’ll pay you back someday.”

“Then buy me a meat bun. I was playing soccer earlier, and it’s late now, so I’m starving!”


Aware of his hunger now that his task was finished, the boy held his stomach while his eyebrows made an upside down v-shape. It was not unreasonable of him, considering night had fallen already.


“…Hmm. Now’s a bad time.”


The boy’s proposal was dangerous not only for Archer, but for himself as well. When twilight fell, it was time for battle. If Archer acted along with the boy, he might get him caught up in unnecessary danger.


“…Oh, okay… You’re on secret business right now, huh, Mister…”

“….I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay! Just make sure to treat me next time!”

“Okay, I promise.”

“Heh heh, it’s a promise! Ah, I have to go home! If I don’t, my mom’ll worry!”


The boy began to hastily pack up his first aid kit. Rejecting Archer’s offer to accompany him as far as the street, he told Archer the details of caring for his wounds and the ship’s layout while moving busily.

“It’ll be useful if something happens”, he said.

Perhaps you should call him a bother… But when Archer looked at the boy sick with worry while still a child, he couldn’t help but smile. He was going to have a rough time with a personality like that.


“Okay! Are your… Wounds okay? They don’t hurt?”

“Yes, no need to worry. My arm’s doing okay.”

“Okay! Heh heh… Okay, Mister… Good luck!”


The boy waved his hand, and raced back to the pier. Archer watched him go. He kept watching, until the boy’s running figure, so vibrant and full of life, disappeared from sight and into the wind.

And then, a guest room on the third floor deck. In a cabin where the evening sun shined through, he laid down on a bed and thought of the boy… of Shirou.

They had parted, and he had done nothing. That was all.

Just doing that was so… Grand.


…A dream, huh.


The Days back when he had recklessly pursued a dream… He reminisced on the days of walking through strong winds, under arid skies.

He was double crossed, deceived, used, attacked, banished and abandoned. But it wasn’t as if everything had betrayed him. There were people he had saved as well. There was the land he had come to love. More than anything, he had believed in the dream.

Why? Why had he turned his eyes away from that?


Heh heh… I’m helpless. I really am beyond help… I’m such an idiot.


If he understood the value of what he had lost,the things he had protected, and the worth of what he had accomplished that was tied to the future- he had to keep them in his heart.

He had simply lost, and in return, taken. The sadness and regret weighed on his heart so much that he forgot.

He forgot to believe in the preciousness of it all.


“Rin, Sakura…”


He murmured to himself… He had protected, and was protected. He had received many times over what he had given.

…He was blessed with an irreplaceable year. He was blessed with his two precious masters.


“…I…”


What could he give in return? How could he protect their hearts?

He had decided to become a sword for them. But if he did that and recklessly hurt others, and destroyed, would that save them? Could that dry their tears? To win the Holy Grail War, to protect their future, he would destroy everything else. Was that alright?

In the mountains. The battle with Assassin. His figure that the two had seen was no doubt terrifying. What the children had felt was… the same as the helpless guardian who gazed away from his hell-bound, purposeless self. Ever tormented by his own actions.

A human who would kill someone without hesitation to save another. A way of life that blindly accepted that that was the right way, the right method. It was wrong. What he had to protect and treasure was not the way.

He had a purpose inside himself. He had hope. And most of all, he had a dream he had to prize over all else. And so, what actions could Archer take now?


“……”


Think. “Just one correct answer” was impossible. If the paths diverged, there should be limitless answers.

Such as battle. If there was only destruction at the end of fighting, people would have gone extinct long ago. If there was also a path of reconciliation ahead, there might be reward at the end of compromise. Even a method to eliminate war itself existed.


“……? …Eliminate war itself?”


Something about the idea struck him. The Holy Grail War was a battle to claim the Holy Grail. That was the beginning of the struggle.


“…What is it? What’s bothering me?”


Too much had happened these last few days, and he hadn’t been able to put all the information in order. This blessed moment was time to compose himself. He would rest his body, restore his condition, and perhaps discover a path he had yet to see.

So decided, he decided to strike while the iron was hot. He secured a retreat route to be safe, and projected some emergency weapons. The ship may be nearly scrapped, but that did not mean there was no master. In case he was found, he concealed weapons by his bedside, and, restraining the activity of his inner magical power to the best of his ability, he entered a hollow state.

On top of his own awareness, while focusing on a position that would allow him to immediately respond if something happened, Archer spread a dusty blanket over himself and closed his eyes.


Come to think of it… Saber slept a lot like this too.. So she wouldn’t exhaust her magical power…


When he recalled the beautiful girl who was constantly eating and sleeping, he smiled in spite of himself.

Saber waiting excitedly for the meal at the dining table where everyone was gathered. Saber, training in the dojo, stern but full of life. Saber, wielding her sword in battle, paying no heed to her wounds.


“…Saber…”


Saber’s face when he had met her at the Port Side Building… Was still covered in doubt. You can’t save everything. You can’t have everything.

But even so, I want to save her, he thought.

“At the very least, be satisfied with the real world with a smile on her face. I’ll make her remember the value of that desire with my own self now that I have a purpose. I know there will be a chance where I can reach my hand out to her.”

In the face of impossible odds, he had arrived at this world. In the face of impossible odds, he had achieved this answer.


That’s why… That’s why.

Don’t give up, Emiya.


If he closed his eyes, it would be there. He would see the light in his heart.

With that, Archer drifted off to sleep.


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 42.

What he regained puts the Bowman through several trials once again.

To protect his dream, to protect their two smiles. What can he do?

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 41 – The Answer (End)

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 41 – The Answer (End)


…What did he say?


The boy’s words were too shocking. Archer couldn’t understand what they meant.


“…It’s not that I understand everything. No, I think you’re the only one who knows, Mister. About your pain. But, even so, Mister… You saved people, right?”

“I…”

“After I split up with you in the department store, I carried that girl, and went down the stairs. And then there was lots of people who had been cared for. Her dad was there too. I guess he had been looking for her the whole time… He was happy he found her. He was so glad she was safe… He cried.”


The boy spoke. He spoke with all of his heart.


“There were lots of people there. Kids, and older people too. Moms and dads, and grandpas and grandmas. …Did you know this? You saved my dad and mom too, Mister.”


That ideal, that dream. What had it been born form? Where had it sprung form?


“Everyone was grateful. They were so happy they were safe. They said they “We’re so glad you’re safe, Shirou!”. It was happy, you know…? I, I was so happy that my mom and dad were safe!”


It was to convey… This feeling.


“Everyone thanked the person who had saved them. They said thanks to you, Mister, and I wanted to tell you that.”


“……Ah.”

“…I thought it was really cool. I wanted to be someone like that. I want to be a person who can protect the people I care about, and other people’s happiness. Because it’s cool! You don’t tell anyone you’re name, and you don’t get anything in return. You just think about helping others. That’s… What an ally of justice is, right?”

“—-!”


Wasn’t that hypocrisy? Wasn’t it an act devoid of salvation? Was it not something that wouldn’t reach his own self? The foolish uncertainty of help that asked for no return? What was it?

…What was the warm feeling inside his chest?


That’s why. Even if it hurts… It’s would be great if I could live like that.”

“…That’s…”

“Do you not like pain, Mister?”

“……”



That had been fine. If he could save someone, it was fine. He was happy, no matter how painful it was.



“Do you leave people alone when they’re crying, Mister? Do you leave them alone because it hurts?”


….No. No. Not that for sure. It was the last remaining piece of dignity within his heart.


“I don’t like that. I’m… Like you, Mister. I want to help people who are crying. I want to protect people’s smiles. If everyone can be full of happiness… Then I would definitely be happy.”

“…Ah.”



That’s right.



I noticed because of Rin and Sakura’s smiles. I was able to remember what I should have gained by helping people, what a smile desires. That’s why…

That’s why I could never kill the boy in front of me. I could never forget their smiles. I could never throw away this dream. I never could have.



“…It’s my loss.”



“…Huh? Were we playing some kind of game?”

“It was a once in a lifetime kind of contest… For me.”

“Is there a prize?”

“Idiot.”


Archer gave a wry smile and rubbed the boy’s head. Such a  gentle smile… How many days had it been?

He didn’t think anything of that. That smile… was a smile… completely free from doubt.


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 41 – Answer: End.

…However, that doesn’t mean he had lost it. No matter what Hell he fell into, no matter what thorn he touched. It didn’t disappear. He didn’t let go.

Among the forest of thorns, the man was called, and he heeded.

A miraculous year of kindness appeared. He gave, and was blessed in turn.

He walked towards the year filled with kindness and blessings. The small smiling faces gave him the light of hope. A clear light to lead him away from the dark, thorny path.

What was there after the light was extinguished? What was thereafter the warmth was lost? There was nothing.

That’s why he would carry just the light and continue walking on. Without despair, he would walk on, believing solely in the light. As long as he never abandoned that emotion of hope, he could go anywhere.

The dream had not been a mistake.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 40 – The Answer (Beginning)

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 40 – The Answer (Beginning)

“What’s wrong, Mister?”


Noticing the look of tormented anguish on Archer’s face, the boy stopped his work and spoke. Tortured by an irritation he couldn’t understand, Archer glared at the boy. But the young face before his eyes did not even begin to change its worried expression.


“…Save someone. Help another. Boy. Those feelings of yours, that urge… Will hurt you one day.”

“…Huh? Why?”

“There’s no end. If you endlessly seek smiling faces, it won’t stop at just that. When people are suffering, the cause amounts to an obstacle. Removing that obstacle means helping someone, or saving them. If one person is making another suffer, you have to punish them. If that person is hurt, someone else cries for them. It’s that, over and over again.

“…Why’s that? Why can’t they be friends? Why do they have to fight?”

“…Two people will have different views. Even if two people could take each others hands, what about ten? A hundred? So many opinions, so many feelings, so much happiness that should be protected… Those feelings won’t be resolved just by holding hands with each other.”


Perhaps it was little difficult to understand. The boy looked downward like he was brooding for a moment and let out a tiny groan. Maybe he was thinking of something.


“If you lend your strength to one person, you incur another’s wrath. And then the accumulated resentment, the bitterness, the grudges of those who couldn’t be saved… Everything you do will come back to you. The weight of your sins will always, always continue to tear at you. Are you fine with a life of suffering like that?”


The boy frowned. After making a troubled expression like he was pondering something, he glanced at Archer. The radiance in his eyes gradually brightened, and then he gave one confident nod and answered…



“…Yes.”



………



“…Why? You just don’t understand. The people you love, and those who care about you, even people who might have been your friends, will become your enemies. People you wanted to protect will cast stones at you, and people you trusted will stab you in the back. Even then, you’ll keep believing in others like a fool, and keep going for the sake of others…!”


…I don’t know.


“…You idiot…! Saving by killing, helping by hurting others! Who could find happiness in that kind of hypocrisy!? Who would be glad about that!? It’s an empty dream where you can’t seek your own happiness. A borrowed ideal. You can’t… You can’t… You can’t save someone with something like that!”


My voice is trembling-


“Turning a blind eye to your own suffering, and pressing on in ignorance… you’ll end up in hell in the end! What you reach at the end of it all is just eliminating everyone who can’t be saved…! No matter where you go, you can’t save anyone, and even after you die, you’ll be hurt, and hurt others… you’ll curse your own existence! How… how could a life like that… Be worth living…!?”


I’m crying…


The boy’s eyes opened in surprise at his shout.

Who was it addressed to? Which fool was he speaking to?

The boy had not gone through the incident. He had not met Emiya Kiritsugu. He was different. The words had no meaning for him. They just passed by him.

Then, who were they for? Who were these words questioning?


“…Mister…”


The boy gently placed his small hand on Archer’s wounded right arm. A pale white hand, still free of injuries. But, it was warm.


“…Yeah. I can’t complain at all… Because you’re here, Mister. Because… I want to be like you, Mister.”


….What?


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 40. Answer: Beginning.

The dream that he pledged always to carry in his heart. Never lapsing for a moment, the dream was always there. That wish, those feelings. They always endured.

He left something important behind.

The man could no longer understand. Why did he run? What was the meaning of it all?

…However…

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 39 – The Dream

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 39 – The Dream.

Those who become heroes through the Counter Force of humanity, Alaya, become “Counter Guardians” after death.

I wanted to save others. I arrived at that ideal at the very end. However…


“———-”


Beneath the black void, swirling with heat and chaos….

The naked blade severed numerous soldier’s spines in a single stroke. Foreseeing the presence of unleashed magic, the red…something rode for the front. One’s heart, another’s spine, and another’s eyes were run through, and they were left on the ground to die.

His movement was so efficient it was as if he had hardly taken a step. He was the fastest, the greatest. When dancing within the jaws of death on the battlefield, what matters is how fast you can grasp an enemy’s weakness and turn them into an unspeaking corpse. Just that.

How to efficiently destroy a human body, how to effectively take a life. He gained all those abilities… For the sake of protecting others. All techniques learned so that wouldn’t have to happen.


“——ah….!”


And then, he came to the town. It was an oven for sacrifice. Deep within the mountains of Syria, within a deep, deep sea of trees where countless mysteries continue to lurk, a ruler twisted by madness and versed in sorcery touched “that”. He coveted the lives of his people.

For the sake of humanity’s continued existence, the Counter Force perceives the elements of destruction and takes action. What then manifests is a Counter Guardian.

He would destroy. He would likely destroy humans along with the dangerous elements. A fire was a fire, fuel, fuel. All would be destroyed. Nothing would be left. Every last trace of sorcery, all of it, gone.

Thus, he destroyed the town.


“——top…!”


A family that had wanted to live on, taking happiness in tomorrow. Young lives. Lives that studied and enjoyed themselves, walking towards the future they wished for. Old lives. Lives that had kept going and saved others.

All were cleanly eliminated, trampled like ants.


—–Stop…!


After the last life was extinguished, all traces of magic were completely destroyed. He then proceeded to the lord’s home. Humans came to attack him, one by one. But it was impossible to stop him with such methods. A Counter Guardian is manifested to exceed the level of destruction. It was how they were chosen. Therefore, it was only natural to be able to kill them all. It was utterly impossible to be killed en route to the objective. Their lives were crushed, like insects.


“—–Stop it…! Stop iiiiit!”


Finally, he took the life of the lord, and destroyed the manor. At that moment, the image was interrupted, and the next appeared.


“——Ahh… Hah… Gaaaah…aah!”


Perhaps next time would be the past. Young men in the form of stern warriors. The opponent may change, but nothing did change. Next, he would change his tactics, taking the best armed enemies into regard, and then kill, posthaste.

The opponents this time appeared to have been told by God to touch “that”. Based on their culture and customs, it might be Persia. Innocent people were once again oppressed.

They wept. They sought rescue. Perhaps they saw the man in red who defeated the soldiers as a the hand of salvation. Young mothers tried to express their gratefulness and extended their hands…


*BOOM*

“—————–“


He entered the town. What happened was the same.


“—–Stop. …Stop it, stop it, stop it stop it, stop iiiiiiittt!”


The rest of it was similar. When it was over, it was onto the next image. When it was over, it was onto the next image. When it was over, it was onto the next image.

He was shown it, over and over again. Over and over again, he killed those seeking relief. Always, no matter the time period, no matter the location. The ones who wept were those who were kind. The ones who lived with all their heart. The ones who wished for help. Hadn’t he become a hero because he wanted to help those people?

Perhaps he had repeated those things a thousand times. After a few hundred, he no longer understood the meaning of his actions, but what he perceived was around that area. If you kept casting a die, it would approach that result on average. It was the same theory. That was everything to him.


I can’t save others.


When the next was over, and then the next. He only hoped for “that”, and he fought desperately to keep from going mad. One day, he would be able to take the hand held out to him. Believing that sustained him. But there was no end to the repeating strife, people wishing for happiness downtrodden, oppressed. In the end, they were enveloped in destruction, and death came for all.

What was he that did such a thing? What was his dream, now that it had been reduced to this?

Foolish humans summoning destruction. Foolish dreams. His foolish self which destroyed them. His foolish dream.

He hated them. He detested all of it.. So he wished, to kill, to kill, and disappear.

After that, he continued to wait, indifferently. He simply bided his time for the recursion of what he knew was the beginning. The Holy Grail War.

And now. Before his eyes was an innocent boy. The outstretched hand was almost around his neck. He could break a thin neck just by putting a little strength into it.


…I can kill him.


That was the wish hidden inside himself in the midst of eternity. A farce, a method to end his own existence. He would be free, free from the grief that scorched his body and all the hatred. He would be free. That was why Archer had participated in the Holy Grail War, but…


…Why… Why?


Archer’s left hand would not touch the boy’s neck. His hand was devoid of the urge to kill.


Ridiculous… Why? Why can’t I kill him? It’s simple, so simple. Break his neck. That’s all it is. Easier than grabbing a cat. That’s all it is, so why… Can’t I do it?

*Throb*


A vision of the children came to him. Holding hands, their happy looking, shy smiles. The boy’s smiling face, speaking of an pure dream.


So I’m going to do what I can do, to make other people smile. I’ve decided!


The boy was different from Emiya Shirou, but he had still said those words, he spoke of such an immature dream.

It was that. It was those very feelings. Those very feelings coming from a boy who was not yet Emiya Shirou. That very dream.

It shook his heart so fiercely.


That’s why I can’t kill him?


“…I…”


I can’t save anyone, so I should just disappear. I lived so long just to erase myself. A harmless boy, harmless words. Anyone would embrace… Such a beautiful dream. An purpose that would be shaken by something like that. Is that what I’ve survived for?

To kill someone, and myself. To destroy that dream… Is that what I’ve been living for?


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 39.

Unable to save a soul, even hands held out in relief are severed. Reduced to such, he was full of hatred.

He hated the dream that had come to pass. So much so that he continued to wish for his own destruction. And yet… His hand cannot kill the boy. It can’t kill the dream he embraced. Why is that? Why?

Why did he live, why did he keep going? The answer is before Archer now.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 38 – The Red Boy.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 38 – The Red Boy.

The evening sun striking the window illuminated the room. Knitting his eyebrows as his shoulder throbbed periodically, Archer ran his eyes over the room’s interior.

You might say it was Western style- the varieties of gaudy furniture and upholstery were pleasing to the eye, but the guest room appeared to have been left unattended to. Scattered piles of accumulated dust simply ruined the effect. It seemed to have long been abandoned as a passenger boat. The decaying state of the room made a deep frown cross Archer’s face.


“The old ship, huh…”


With a little “You can’t let them find you, right?”, the young boy had guided Archer to his “secret base”. Waiting beyond after passing through a rotten fence with a “Private Property” sign adhered to it was the pier along the riverside. “The base” was anchored to the quite harbor, lined with old construction cranes and warehouses. It was the old ship Archer had noticed from the bus on the bridge the day of the explosion at the Fuyuki Department Store.


“Neat, huh? This is my secret base!”

“…Just how are we going to get in there?”

“Okay, look close at the crane that’s stopped over there. The tip is touch the side of the boat, right?”

“Hm? …I see. Yes it is.”

“We can get in from there!”


The cargo loading crane had contact with a portion of the boat’s side, and there was a gap large enough to enter part of the a corridor on the first floor deck.


“What a rough mooring… Is it because it’s wearing out? But I guess kids wouldn’t know it was scary…”

“Don’t come here anymore. You would get hurt if you fell.”

“…Oooh. B- but, you’re here this time Mister, so it’s fine, isn’t it?”

“Honestly… In any case, it’s practically in pieces. I can’t be scrapped, could it?”

“I dunno. But after I found the boat, no one else found it, and I didn’t see anyone ever.”

“…I see.”


Unable to waste magical power, Archer did not attempt his Structural Analysis magic, but in so far as he relied on a sixth sense regarding matters related to sorcery, he could not feel the uncomfortable sensation peculiar to a magician’s encampment. After confirming there were no signs of people in the nearby area, Archer entered the old ship, carrying the boy.


“Thanks for waiting!”


The red haired boy opened the door and stepped inside carrying a large emergency box in his arms. He appeared to have hidden food, snacks, toy weapons, and other items out of some survival kit inside the ship, and calling it a secret base did not necessarily seem like an inaccurate representation.


“Okay, I’ll put them on, I guess.”

Ascertaining the condition of Archer’s wounds, the boy began his first aid, and spoke without taking his eyes off of his work.

“…What is it?”

“You’re a liar, even though you’re an adult.”

“…There’s things you’re better off not knowing in your life. You’ll understand when you grow up.”

“When you talk about fancy stuff, aren’t you just going in circles? When adults starts saying stuff that’s convenient for them at times like that, they’re usually covering up something bad. That’s what my mom says.”

“…She’s quite a mother.”


Archer spontaneously made a wry smile. The boy smiled happily as if he had scored a point. But the boy took his eyes off of the wounds for only a moment, and then he returned to the treatment.


“It’s important.”


He was probably the same age as Rin and Sakura. He was in the Boy Scouts, wasn’t he? But the boy’s enthusiasm for “fixing” and his concentration was not that of a child, and his zeal no doubt strengthened his skills. It was care far more thorough than the one-armed Archer had done.


“…Ah.”


When he reached his shoulders, the busily moving boy stopped his hand.



“…Hm? What’s wrong?”

“…Ah. No. I won’t ask.”

“…? What do you mean?”

“Umm… Last year, my dad got into a car wreck, and he was really hurt. We got a phone call in the middle of the knight, and mom got really upset and started crying, and I didn’t know who to do. I kept saying it would be okay, and we went to the hospital together.”

“…Okay.”

“Dad was really badly injured. Mom just cried, and I didn’t know what to do either. I couldn’t do anything… So, I just cried too.”

“…I see.”

“We couldn’t do anything for Dad. But… When the surgery was done, Dad survived. I was so happy.”

“…I-, I see… I’m glad.”



Unconsciously lured by the boy’s happy face, a smile of relief appeared on Archer’s lips. Losing family members. It was good… He hadn’t had to experience something so sad. Seeing Archer’s expression, the boy also grinned.

“Heh heh… Thanks! Then, I said thank you while I was crying to the doctor who came out of the operating room. And then…”

“…And then?”

“He said he was glad, and it was fine… now… And with a really gentle face… He cried. And smiled at me.”


The boy wiped the tip of his nose, and then started directly at Archer and spoke.


“…Mister, your smile just now was the same.”

“……”

“When I met you for the first time, Mister, you made that girl calm down, right? The doctor made me smile too… When I was just crying. I wanted to make someone smile like that, and I wanted to be a strong man who could get my mom calm down.”

“……”

“I treated a friend of mine who was hurt. It was the first time, and I was really clumsy, but he said ‘Thanks!’ and smiled at me. …I was really happy! So I’m going to do what I can do, to make other people smile. I’ve decided!”

“……”


A smile across his whole face. But the smile dimmed a little, and the boy turned his eyes to the wound on Archer’s shoulder.


“…All of this stuff that happened to someone like you, Mister. You definitely got hurt protecting someone, right?”

“……”

“Heh heh, so… I won’t ask. It’s kind of embarrassing to say all of that stuff out loud… Plus, you’re super cool, Mister! It’s cooler when you don’t know the hero’s identity, right?”


Rubbing his nose shyly, the boy smiled.


“Ah, I said it… I-, it’s not cool, huh? Keep what I just said a secret, okay!?”


Lit by the evening light, cheeks died red like an apple. An embarrassed smile, radiant.

That. That gesture. Those feelings.

The boy shining bright red and illuminated by the fading sun.
And the target that must be destroyed that slept inside Archer. For the first time, they joined.


“……Ah.”


One day…

He had thought about their meeting. He would have searched for him if they had not met.

He would… Kill him.

The boy’s name was Emiya Shirou. The name of his old self.

A fool of a man who had fallen chasing his mad dream.


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 38.
If the two should meet.

The beginning and the encounter should be different. The childish dreams the boy spoke of resembled what he himself had once embraced far too much. That was why he noticed. That was why he noticed just who the boy was.

Together with House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 37 – A Red Thread

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 37 – A Red Thread.

“——ah…. Fwah…!”

*Cough, Cough!*

Emerging from the depths of his consciousness, Archer choked on the taste of the ocean water that had invaded his lungs.

“Ah…. Haa… Haa… Where am I…?”

The dimly rising sunlight in the eastern sky illuminated the landscape and told him his location.

A dock… the river side park that spread across the river bank, where the sightseeing tours boarded. The rope coiled around his body was for mooring the boats to the shore; somehow he had gotten caught on it, saving him from floating into the open ocean. A stroke of good luck.

“Guh… Haah…Ah…”

Mustering his strength, he climbed up the wharf. He wrenched out stakes stored in his foot and arm guards and stuck them into the gaps in the wall. He would stab one in and pull one out one at a time, using his hands and feet to ascend. Essentially, he was rock climbing up the pier.

“Hah… Ahh…”

As he crawled up to the top of the wharf, he fell facing up, his strength exhausted. He filled his chest full of the cool morning air, rousing his awareness, and with it reviving the pain across his entire body. Every part of his body.

“…Ha, ha ha… I can’t believe… I survived.”

He lightly examined his condition. His entire body was thoroughly covered in wounds, new and reopened. The scars caused by the holy swords, due to their offensive strength, were harmful, but the wounds themselves were not deep. It would be difficult to close them, but if he took care it would not be an issue. His eyes and right arm that had been struck were especially severe. A brutal wound caused by the final blow ran from where it had pierced his right shoulder to his chest. If he had not noticed the sniping, it would have been over then.

The main problem was his remaining supply of magical energy. He may have been in a state of near death, but he had lost a significant amount of blood for the perhaps half a day he had been underwater, thoroughly exhausting his energy to maintain his condition. He had perhaps half the amount of magical energy of a typical magician remaining. It would take everything he had to avoid annihilation, let alone healing his wounds.

“Gah… Ah…”

Holding his wounds, Archer’s tottering body collapsed in a nearby thicket. He shed his conspicuous red coat, and used it as an emergency medical supply. Waiting for a moment when people were absent, he secured some water and cleansed his wounds, sewed the cuts whose size made stitches possible with a medical needle and thread taken from the burial cloth, and used the rest of the shroud in place of dressing to brace his injuries. It was a first-class defense-oriented conceptual weapon that excelled at protecting the wearer from damage. Even so, the treatment of his injured right arm was beyond the kit he had on hand.

“Damn… Maybe if I rest and sneak into a hospital afterwards…”

In any case, he was currently acting independently. While possessing the ability, moving on without resting would not only be a waste of magical for Archer but suicide. Placing his back against a tree, he isolated his external magic power inside himself, and decided to take a short period of rest.



…Evening fell. There was fine weather after all the rain, and the same beautiful reddened sun shone on the shade of the tree Archer took rest under. Far away, he could hear the voices of children playing energetically. Though winter was nearing, the joyfulness was just like that on a summer’s evening, and the soft breeze blowing alongside the gentle rays of the sun tickled his face as he awoke.

“…It’s late, I guess.”

Archer loosened his neck and relaxed the stiffness in his body. His sutured wounds were not in terrible state, but his right arm had as he expected not improved, and intermittently throbbed with pain. His poor condition was unchanged. But this was why something felt wrong.

“…My magical power is… Recovering?”

His internal supply of magical energy had greatly recovered from where it had been before he had rested.

It was possibly for Servants to use their own magical circuit to produce some magical energy. But as the amount recovered was in proportion to the remaining power, considering his own currently exhausted magical state, the level of energy produced was, practically, more than he could ask for from his own magic circuit.

“……?”

With the creation of a supply of magical energy, it was essential the Servant themselves be in range of the Master’s magical power, and it would be impossible to receive its benefits if far apart. There were many tasks, from reconnaissance to sniping, that took a Servant away from their Master, and while the Servant Archer held the class skill of “Independent Action”, under conditions when magical energy was severed, it prevented pointless loss, and did not actually raise the efficiency of replenishment.

It was faint, but he had recovered power. That was proof that the Master was coming close to being in range with the Servant to transmit magical energy and that the supply line had been reestablished. In which case-


*Thmp*


“…Hm?”

Suddenly, a soccer ball flew into his field of view. Unconsciously knocking it down, it bounced off the front of the bush and fell into his lap.

“—-!?”

It was probably a stray ball from some of the boys playing soccer in the park that had found its way here. They would no doubt be coming to collect it. It would be rather troublesome if one came this way and saw Archer in his current state.

Standing out now would be extremely unfortunate. In his condition, being discovered by an enemy servant would mean defeat and death. He couldn’t kick the ball back in return, but he couldn’t very well hold on to it either. Judging that his only option was to escape, Archer placed the ball on the ground and stood-

“…Oh. Huuh? Mister! Hey, Mister!”

At that moment, a voice outside the bush called to Archer. Resigned, Archer turned his head, and in his eyes was the red haired boy he had met at the Fuyuki Department Store.

“You’re-”
“Woow, what are the chances? Hey, is that cosplay?”
“…Just where did you learn that word from-”
“Or is it some new type of fireman uniform? …Hey… Mister is that, maybe…”
“……”
“Y-, you’re hurt- Ah!”

At the sight of the blood seeping out and staining the burial cloth, the boy fell into confusion. Archer’s left hand seized the boy’s body with incredible swiftness and pulled him into the thicket.

“Hey, wh-, what are you doing, Mister!?”
“…I don’t want to get rough, boy. Just be good now.”
“…Eh, hey, Mister. Your eyes are scary, you know?”
“Promise me one thing, and then I’ll let you go. Don’t tell anyone I’m hiding here.”
“…Huh?”
“I’m playing a game of hide and seek right now with my life on the line. It’s all over If I get found.”
“Wh-, what…!? M-, Mister, what are you!?”
“If you promise to keep it a secret, maybe I could tell you. So, do you promise?”
“I-, I swear! I swear! I won’t tell anyone!”
“…Good. Then first bring the ball back to your friends, and act normally.”
“O-, okay.”
“Then when everyone goes home, come back here. Then I’ll tell you my secret. Make sure not to tell anyone.”
“A-, alright! I’ll be right back!”

The boy left the bushes, his eyes sparkling. Boys his age were obsessed with huge conspiracies and the unknown. It had really been quite easy. Confirming that the boy had run up to his friends, Archer hid himself in a stall inside a nearby public bathroom while protecting his injured body. He pictured the boy’s face twisting in sadness and anger, but it was for his sake. His heart would hurt, but he would have to bear the tears.

“I’m sorry, boy.”

Sitting on a closed toilet seat, Archer listened closely to the boys’ voices.

“Later!”
“See you tomorrow!”
“Bye!”




…………


“…He left?”


………


*………Tmp Tmp Tmp!*




“Mister!”
“…? …Uwaah!”
“That’s mean! You said you’d stay in the bushes! You promised!”
“…Absurd.”

How had he found him? And then Archer finally noticed. A loose string from the burial cloth ran along the floor and stretched out past the door.

“A string from the frayed part of the cloth around your shoulder got caught on a branch in the bushes, and big pieces of it came off the whole way here!”
“…I cannot believe this.”

Unable to accept his own bad luck, Archer was shocked at how low his attentiveness must have been to not notice something like that.

He unconsciously looked to the heavens. There was… A rather proud-looking boy’s face peering in from above the door.

“Found you!”
“…Shit.”


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 37.
The saint’s red thread. It is connected to the thread of fate.
And it is tied to several fates even he knows nothing of.

Chasing after him, what do the three children have to give him?

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 36 – Curse

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 36 – Curse

Let us go back to a few days ago. A few days after the explosion at the Fuyuki Department Store.

Archer had gone to the church, keeping it a secret from the children. He went to search for confirmation of the beginning of the Holy Grail War and details of the situation.

The fortunate warden, Kotomine Risei, had been associated with the elder Tohsakas. His son, Kotomine Kirei, had in quick order acquired an amicable relationship. If you were prepared to receive some emotional damage, he was a man par excellence as both clergy and agent, and if all went well, Archer had a plan to possibly request his cooperation.


“So you finally noticed, Bowman.”

Kotomine Kirei’s first bit of speech sounded amazed. He lowered himself into a seat in front of the two-person altar and spoke,  facing away from both the bowman and himself.

“What kind of warden are you, exactly? If that’s the case, who knows how many people the Servant of that established magician… Has consumed.”

Indiscriminate slaughter by a Servant. It was an unforgivable taboo by the rules they had established. Sorcery was to be hidden. Victims could arouse suspicion in others, and thus were unacceptable. The results of Archer’s investigation were focused on the vicinity of the Fuyuki Department Store, but there had been five missing people.

An unusually large deviation for the area for simple missing persons’ cases; the length of the incident seemed short, the people many. The information may have gone unreported, but the severe nature of the incident made investigation a matter of time. No, it had already begun. If it hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been so easy to check.

*Clench*

The words he directed at Kotomine could be very well be said to Archer himself. Who was he to call himself an ally of justice? He had to end this- immediately.

“…I’ll thank you for the information. Well, what business do you have for me today, Servant? Penitence for the victims of regret that lie in your heart? Or have you perhaps come to ask for the safeguard of the children you won’t be able to fully protect?”

…….

Archer laughed. The priest sarcastically distorted gossip and spoke nonsense. Me, unable to protect children?


“What was that?”
“…Hm? You should know, Bowman. We may rarely meet, but this is a neighborhood. I’ve seen you walking through the area together with the Master’s daughter’s quite often. It’s quite amusing, in fact.”

“……”

“So. What business do you have with me, O Servant of the dead of war? If it concerns the latter incident, I will gladly take responsibility. This trial… Is far too cruel for them. Those girls are so young. They’ve come so far without staining their hands with blood.”

The young priest continued to speak while seeming to take pleasure in observing the changing expression of the Bowman. As if each word exposed some vague fear the Bowman harbored, he opened up his heart.

“…Shut up. I’m the one who came to ask questions. A house of God is a place to seek help for what troubles you. I’m not here to listen to your sermon.”
“…How impolite of me. Not answering anything after you have taken such pains to come here undetected would make me a failure as a priest. I will answer to the best of my ability.”

Archer began asking questions. Kotomine knew several things.

The battle had already begun, and seven Servants and seven Masters were gathering… The status of the substitute grail from the Einzbern family was unconfirmed… Traces of battles between Servants had already been discovered, and it was very likely there were already some losers. And so forth.

“…You answered more than I expected. This is an odd turn of events, isn’t it?”

Expecting no worthwhile information, Archer had reaped a harvest beyond his imagining. Especially the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. The Einzbern Master possessed it. There were strong signs to that effect. If he seized it first, it would be useful for attack and defense.


“…Well. Then it pains me to say I have one thing left. A gift of curse for you to take.”
“…What?”

Archer sensed danger in the rejoicing smile of the priest. He furrowed his brow and glared at him. The priest shrugged his shoulders at the menacing gaze and smiled bitterly.



“It would appear that you have lost your chance this time. I am a mere onlooker now. Well, it’s only proper to accept that.”

“…? …Hey, what?”



The information he had gained from the priest was undoubtedly of worth. Gazing in satisfaction at the discouraged, tall red figure, the priest smiled once and looked into his eyes.

“In this battle. You will hurt all that you try to protect. You will hurt them… Deeply.”

“…What?”

The priest’s calm smile held the answer for the Bowman.

“Bowman. You exist as an Heroic Spirit, and therefore you were called by the Grail. Why did you become a hero? What did you achieve to become so? I can not know. But. Of one thing I am certain.”

“Heroes-”

…Yes, what the priest had to say. In his regrets, absorbed in reminiscence, the Bowman now knew so well it pained him.

“Are beings that could never be born in peace. They kill and kill and kill. Devoted to their own dream, a domain where the only the faithful arrive.”

The dark eyes, sharper than any arrow, pierced the Bowman.

“Bowman. What you seek, the way to protect the peace and the hearts of those two-“

A way of choosing someone.

“For the way you have lived, it is impossible. The methodology a human whose hands are stained with blood can take is merely what he knows.”

And then, he smiled.

“So, what can you choose, Bowman? The time will come. Even if it destroys those children’s young hearts, you’ll choose to dirty your hands with blood, and fulfill your own dream.”

“……”

Kill and kill and kill, and the peace built atop the corpses was his accomplishment, his final result. What he could achieve was to protect by killing, a course of action soaked in blood.

This was the hypocrisy of the ally of justice he had sought. Faster and more efficiently than anyone else. A savior of the many bringing battle to a close, an enemy of the few.

Showing that way to the girls would be-.

To those immature smiles. Those kinds grins.

How much would it hurt them?

“It may be possible to hide “it” from them forever.”



“……”

It was impossible. As long as he continued this way. As long as he lived by defeating an enemy, killing someone and seizing victory.

“…Heh.”

The priest poured further derision on the frozen Bowman and left his seat.

“When you do choose that, I’ll pray. Pray that those angelic little faces aren’t covered in sadness. That they aren’t troubled by those lost lives. I’ll pray, and wait.”



Yes, priest. Your prediction had come to pass. The man who had lived as a murderer, developed himself into one firm blade, made the worst possible choice.

Hurt others, unable to kill. And now the precious people left behind were perishing.

“A great curse—”


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 36.
Despite his years, the priest adept at striking at the hearts of others identifies the irregularity of the Knight of the Bow.

A question that seemed as if those who had lost their chance blamed those who had gained it cut deeper into his heart even more than battle.

Always in his heart, a question directed at himself. Ever since that day.

Those festering words, akin to a curse that dwelled within the Knight of the Bow, pulled apart their three hearts and continued to torture him, even now.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 35 – Pain.

Together with House-Husband, Part 2, Chapter 35 – Pain

“Invisible Air- Full Release.”

A wind ferocious enough to visibly distort the atmosphere was given form by the enraged King of Storms.

Perhaps she had tried to minimize the damage to the nearby surroundings. Condensed, concentrated, held in check, spirits of the wind that had lost their destination swirled around the wrathful holy sword.

Invisible Air, fire!


“Damn it!”

“Too slow!”


*Thwooooosh!*

The wind howled, like the roaring of a dragon. Liberated from the captive anger, the wind created a vacuum that carried fury along with the gale. The attack surpassed the speed of sound, capturing Archer with no time to escape.

*Boom!*

“—Gah…!”


The “sword of wind” swung from below sent Archer’s body flying into the air. Due to the range, the wave of vacuum had been unable to demonstrate its full effect, and he did not suffer a cut similar the sharpness of a blade.

However, the directed shockwave that had sprung forth, the extreme vibration; they were more like a giant hand than any breeze, and the heavenly blow shattered the membranes of his ear drums and inflicted severe damage to his entire body. Even while his head swam from the overwhelming impact, Archer moved reflexively to protect his body from crashing into the approaching red “something”.

*Sss..—Clang!*

“—Gah …Ahh, hah, gaah… hah…!”
His eye sockets, his nostrils, his ears- blood flowed from all, as Archer was racked with injuries. The red “something” had been the part of the arch of the Fuyuki bridge. He had at last reached his goal, but his damaged inner ear had ruined his sense of balance. In his current state, he would likely die in the midst of escaping.


“Guh…. Agh… Haaaah!”


But even then, he could not fall in a place like this. He gathered the reserve magic power in his body and stood, prepared to face death. Wet with blood, his bright red field of vision captured Fuyuki at night.

Which way… the river, which way?

This way, Servant Archer.

The cold voice echoed. Its beauty far surpassed the utterance of some lone reaper, but for the woman he knew it was far too severe.

His blurring eyesight saw the white reaper standing before him. Even grimacing, the silver was all the more enchanting. Saber.

Honestly… How naive.”

There was no need to call out to a dying man. Simply bringing down her blade in silence was sufficient. By all rights, it should have ended. It should have.

…?

Something was off.

His thoughts were suspect due to his injures, but the sense of unease produced suspicion. Had Saber really been such a soft opponent? Had she been the sort to show kindness to her enemies due to the remnants of her knightly chivalry?

Had she been the sort of knight to pay proper respect to the battle, and unreliably exhaust her own strength to slay an enemy?

*Whoosh! Shing!*

However, as if to prevent an answer from reach his growing doubts, Saber filled the space between them in an instant. Archer defended against the blow with his last hope, Kanshou.

*Krkrrrr…*

A duel, swords pressed together, had begun. Sparks flew and brightly illuminated the faces of both. Their physical strength was incomparable. Bodily condition, too, was wildly disparate.

…So why? Why lock swords?

Visible behind the sparks was Saber’s regretful face. Far to the side of his reddened vision, standing like a gravestone, was Fuyuki Port Side Building. He caught sight of a fluttering cloth halfway, catching the direction of the wind. And then, his current location, Fuyuki’s large bridge.

Those four signs conveyed the meaning of Saber’s baffling conduct. Archer realized the true intentions of the enemy master of Saber, overlooking the battlefield.

Yes, why had Saber been waiting in that place? The answer was clear. It was the most suitable location for shooting at the bridge…


In that moment. Without indecision or hesitation. Archer released the strength he had been using to lock swords with Saber.

*Shunk*

“—Ah?”

Saber let out a small gasp of amazement. Invisible Air tore into Archer’s body. Flowers of blood bloomed. Agony wracked his chest. But for that instant, Saber’s rigid body had loosened.


The enemy’s real intention was to-


*Thump*

Archer shoved Saber’s shoulder. His exhausted body was struck and staggered several steps backward.

Together with the ever-reliable servant who put an end to the movement. The enemy was slain.

*Bam! —Sssst!*

Streaks of magical bullets cut through the wind. From the roof of Fuyuki Port Side Building, consecrated 12.7mm x 99 ammunition flew. Packed with enormous amounts of A-rank magical energy, they tore through Archer’s chest.

“—Gaah-”

The heartless attack that would have partially torn through Saber as well released the last remaining reins of consciousness in the Bowman, and stripped away the fighting strength from his body. Falling backwards, Archer missed his footing on the arch of the great bridge and he plunged, head over heels, into the dark Mion River below.

“…What?”

From atop the arch, Saber stared at the dark water’s surface far below. What had that Servant done just now?

With a heartbreaking face, bearing something painful. He had borne the full force of Invisible Air as if to say his own wounds were inconsequential, and pushed Saber away.


◆ ◆ ◆


To protect her, perhaps.

“Why?”

She would not die. Even for her Master, Saber’s death would be a pointless detriment. The strategy of relying on Saber’s astonishing healing ability was typical of the callous nature of her Master. Her Master used her as means to an end.

Even so, she had not been discontent in accepting the tactics. The full extent of battle ability available had secured her passage to the bridge. That it had stretched out this long was her own mistake. She had given her assent to wound them. In order to reliably defeat the few remaining Servants.

The latter half of the Holy Grail War. Abandoning mutual consensus thus far, the two had acted independently, concealed themselves, harassed by the forms of hidden enemies, unable to hide their impatience. Their methods were different, but they shared a common goal. A quick conclusion to the war. And then victory. For that reason, she had even thrown away her own pride. Saber accepted even her master’s cold tactics, and resolved for form a united front. In order to win.

Saber would not die with this strategy. That Servant should have understood that much. So why, then, had he saved her?

*Twinge*

The eyes that had looked upon her. A grievous expression. It reminded her of the faces of the knights she had left behind. The loyal and beloved Knights of her Round Table. Sir Bediver, Sir Lucan.

Why did that Servant make her feel that way?

“……”

She shook her head. Disregarding your own self to save others. And risking your own life for the sake of the enemy. There was no meaning in a battle like that. There was no meaning in that method. Live, live, live on and on. If you couldn’t grant your desire, there was no point.


*Shff*


She turned. To face the next battle. But as she began to walk, the Bowman’s painful expression lingered in her mind.


Together With House Husband, Part 2, Chapter 35.

The outstretched hand has no words; nonetheless, something remains between the two. In the midst of battle, what was it that he further desired? That existence-